Friday, October 13, 2006

Gender discrimination... or dearth of visible female birders?

SeEtta posted a comment today to my Editor's Note that mentioned Kevin Karlson's article in the September/October issue about birding's up-and-coming leaders. The comment read:
I am concerned that this list included only 1 female. Given that females make up about half, give or take depending on the survey, of birders, this is in my opinion discriminatory.

Surely the author could have found more than one female in the field that is shaping the future of birding.
My response: You're not the first to voice that opinion. I must say that Karlson, a 25-year birder who lives in a hotspot visited by vast numbers of birders and who travels regularly to birding festivals and events, wracked his brain to find more female stars.

If you know of other young women who've accomplished as much as Jessie Barry and have earned national recognition, please share their names!


Blogger janet said...

I've been pondering this question since you first posted it and I have no answers. Most of the birders I encounter are my age or older (i may be in the prime of life but 55 is not young). I did notice at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island Raptor weekend that a fair number of the presenters were young blonde women but I don't know that they are particularly leaders.

As far as nurturing new birders and nurturing a love of the natural world goes, one of the things that I enjoy most about being a plover warden (besides getting to see piping plover chicks) is the opportunity to turn kids on to noticing the birds around them. The days when I get to say more than "beach closed, plovers nesting" and instead point out the wonder of it all are golden. My favorite shift was on a very hot day when a little girl pointed to a group of gulls and asked if they were all the same kind. I showed her how to tell them apart and she was thrilled. When she left the beach that afternoon she told me she was going to the library to take out a bird book because she wanted to learn the names of all the kinds of birds. My heart jumped for joy. Maybe she'll become a leader in the birding world some day, or maybe she'll just become a more aware and responsible citizen of planet earth.

October 13, 2006 11:46 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks, Janet, for pointing out the age issue. My experience on the magazine shows that most subscribers are your age and older.

If that plays out across the community, then it might be accurate to say that most female birders are your age and older, leaving a very small group of young female birders. Whether members of that small group have created high enough profiles to receive national attention for their activities is in question, no?

And many thanks for your work as a plover warden and an educator! I so enjoy reading or hearing anecdotes about kids who get turned onto birding.

October 13, 2006 12:08 PM  
Blogger Susan Gets Native said...

I haven't done anything, yet, in the world of birding...but check back in 20 years and you might have a story in ME.

October 13, 2006 7:49 PM  
Blogger birdchick said...

I've even posted this question on Bird Forum and I'm getting a lot of European birders saying that there are even fewer women birding over there than in the States.

One of the commenters attributes it "laddish behavior". Boy, how I wish there was more "laddish behavior" amontst North American male birders.

October 15, 2006 5:31 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Keep us posted, Susan (c:

Sharon, did the Europeans define "laddish behavior"? Highly curious.

October 16, 2006 10:22 AM  

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